HERE TO THERE
Regarding incoming Mayor James Hahn’s various pie-in-the-sky transit-related promises, detailed by Harold Meyerson in ”A House Divided“ [June 15–21], success is doubtful for Hahn‘s pledge to drop the MTA’s appeal of Judge Hatter‘s ruling that the consent decree requires the purchase of hundreds of additional buses (beyond those of which the MTA is already taking delivery). The mayor controls only four votes on the 13-member MTA board, and so far no other member of the board has indicated a desire to drop the appeal. As to Hahn’s promises of lower bus fares — Antonio Villaraigosa backed up his pledge to lower fares with a detailed funding plan. Hahn attacked parts of Villaraigosa‘s plan but never offered details on how he planned to pay for his fare reduction.
After seven years as a community activist on transportation issues, one thing I have learned is that transportation funds are hard to obtain and the object of fierce competition. This is a lesson I suspect Mayor Hahn will soon learn.
Southern California Transit Advocates
”THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMMENTARY“
Regarding ”Independent Music’s Right To Fight“ [June 8–14], I am disappointed in this overwhelmingly biased article by Judith Lewis, especially after I spent a great deal of time with her on the phone. An artist is removed from our site only after thorough investigation. This is for the benefit of the entire MP3.com artist community, over 150,000 strong. Don‘t believe that no dialogue takes place with an artist who is removed from the site.
As for MP3.com’s treatment of artists: Who else gives digital artists free bandwidth and free promotion? And who else compensates song owners based upon their number of listens? All of our computations are done electronically, with no artist having a higher royalty structure than an unknown artist signing up with MP3.com with no label affiliation. Our system is auditable each day by all artists and anyone else who wishes to look at the dollars and the data. Artists can look at the number of plays they get each and every day and the moneys they receive each and every day. Then they can decide if it‘s valuable for them to be on MP3.com. If not, they can exit. Shabby treatment? We invite you to look more closely and judge for yourself.
Director of Public Relations
JUDITH LEWIS REPLIES: After many attempts to contact both Greg Wilfahrt and MP3.com attorney Rod E. Underhill by phone and e-mail, I received one call from Wilfahrt, in which he offered many ”no comments“ and one terse explanation. He ignored all subsequent questions left on his voice mail. But I guess it makes sense. If Wilfahrt can call his reluctant submission to a four-minute interview ”a great deal of time,“ then he can also consider spooky form-letter e-mails to be ”dialogue“ with the artist.
I don’t know whether Analog Pussy was intentionally ”gaming“ MP3.com‘s system or not. If it was just a matter of fans visiting their page at MP3.com, downloading thousands of times a day, and telling friends who went ahead and did likewise, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, if diverting Web browsers, streaming MP3.com page content from other locations, mass unsolicited e-mailings, etc., were among their methods, such activities are blatantly not within the spirit of the P4P system at MP3.com. Such activities would hurt their fellow ”indie artists,“ not to mention making the charts at MP3.com worthless in the sense of being a barometer for quality or popularity.
The coolest thing about MP3.com is the opportunity it affords listeners to hear that the quality of my music holds up alongside that of any of the ”major label“ jazz artists online. Where I get hurt is when other musicians in my genre at MP3.com engage in sophisticated schemes to inflate their page activity in an effort to climb out of the trenches and receive the exposure most of us are working within the rules to achieve.
Kudos on Judith Lewis‘ excellent exposition on the state of the online music world. As a recording engineer cum computer programmer, I was pleased to find that the article accurately presented many technical issues. I would, however, like to point out two items that I feel were not correctly presented.
First, 2600 magazine did not ”offer [DeCSS] as a means to break . . . DVD“ copy protection. What 2600 did do was link to code, developed for the purpose of gaining access to DVD content, in the course of presenting a technical news item (which is what 2600 does). Much more can be said about the politics of DeCSS, but it is unfair to characterize 2600’s involvement in this way. 2600 magazine is being sued for an act of journalism, not an act of piracy. I‘m surprised that distinction was lost on Lewis and her editors.
Second, Eben Moglen is general counsel for the Free Software Foundation (www.fsf.org), and not for the open-source movement in general. Again, the distinction is complex and is best presented in a larger forum than in a letter to the editor, but I’m sure Richard a Stallman would love to spend several hours of his time (and Lewis‘) explaining it should she persist in propagating the fallacy.
I loved Margy Rochlin’s story on Helen Gurley Brown [”Bad, Bad Gurley Brown,“ June 8–14]. The only thing lacking is mention of Brown‘s wonderful kindness to the young people climbing the ladder to success in publishing. She is ready to help so many of them — including my grandson, who feels she is 10 feet tall. She has captured his heart, which makes me jealous, but I know how wonderful she is, and has been to him. Keep it up, Ms. Brown.
Re: Judith Lewis’ ”And You Don‘t Ask a Neurosurgeon To Show You How To Cut Up Brains . . .“ [June 15–21]. Uta Hagen’s querulous refusal to discuss the actor‘s technique with the ”lay public“ is boresome. Comparing an actor’s technique to a violinist‘s bowing technique is nonsensical, and I wonder why people let her get away with it. Fine, don’t discuss it — but don‘t blame the public and the press for being thoughtful and curious about technique.
Re: Ron Athey and Vaginal Davis’ ”The Beauty of the Dork“ [June 15–21]. Thank you for the geeks. Thanks for introducing the Herbst twins to the world. What energy! What sangfroid! What geek wonderdom!
New York City
I read with intense fascination Ron Athey and Vaginal Davis‘ discourse. It was especially heartwarming when John Hodiak’s name was mentioned — he was a babe, wasn‘t he, especially as the no-nonsense survivor in Lifeboat? And I totally agree with the positive diminutive-man assessment: One of my strongest crushes was on a short, redheaded Jewish fellow with glasses, and I often utilize him in my fantasies today.
An interesting dialogue overall. Let’s have more of it in the Weekly in the future.
OUR CROSS TO BEAR
What‘s the point of Peter Gilstrap’s ”Cavalcade of Christ“ area of the Weekly Web site, anyway? To mock Jesus Christ and individuals who believe in him? I‘m amazed at how popular religion bashing has become, and disappointed that your publication has taken a role.
In the June 22–28 issue, a Scoring the Clubs item incorrectly stated that the hip-hop duo Blood of Abraham are Orthodox Jews who frequently reference the Torah in their songs. We apologize for the error.